Georgia Senate runoff: What to know about the Warnock-Walker race for U.S. Senate seat

ATLANTA — Incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker will compete in a runoff to fill a full six-year term for one of Georgia’s U.S. Senate seats.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger says it is mathematically impossible for either Raphael Warnock or Herschel Walker to get to a majority 50% plus one vote.

“I’ll ask voters to come out and vote one last time. We have no control over how many campaign ads our voters are going to see over the next 28 days but we’ll make sure we have honest and fair elections,” Raffensperger said.

Here’s everything that Georgia voters need to know about the runoff.

When is the U.S. Senate runoff?

A change in Georgia law with Senate Bill 202 means instead of the nine-week runoff race we saw in the 2020 Senate elections, this runoff will be four weeks after Election Day. That means the runoff is scheduled for Dec. 6.

Why is Georgia having a runoff? How does a runoff work?

Under Georgia law, a candidate must get more than 50% + 1 vote in the general election to avoid a runoff. If no candidate meets that criteria, the race goes to a runoff between the top two vote-getters.

The runoff election is held four weeks after the general election. Early voting begins a week prior to the runoff date

The top two vote getters will face each other in a runoff election to be held four weeks after the general election. Find voter registration deadlines for upcoming elections.

State and federal runoffs used to happen on different days, but a measure passed last year combines those into a single date. Before this year, runoffs for federal general elections were held nine weeks later.

In 2020, control of the U.S. Senate came down to the twin contests in Georgia, both of which were won by Democrats in runoffs that stretched into the next calendar year. In their 2021 runoff elections, Jon Ossoff and Warnock became the first Democrats to win a U.S. Senate election in Georgia since 2000.

Can I register to vote for runoff? Can I vote in the runoff if I didn’t vote in the general election?

If you were not registered before Nov. 7, you cannot register to vote in the runoff. Voters who registered for the general election, whether they voted or not, are eligible to vote in the runoff.

You can check your voter registration here.

When does early voting begin?

Early voting can begin a week prior to the runoff date. For this runoff, the Secretary of State’s Office says early voting can’t begin until Nov. 28 at the earliest.

Early voting can’t begin until the state certifies the general election, currently targeted for Nov. 21, according to Deputy Secretary of State Gabriel Sterling.

A state law does not allow in-person voting on a state holiday or the Saturday after a state holiday. Because both Thanksgiving and the following Friday are state holidays, there will be no Saturday voting offered before the runoff.

Can I vote by absentee ballot? How do I request an absentee ballot?

Absentee ballots can be requested between now and Nov. 28. To request an absentee ballot, you’ll need: a completed absentee ballot application with *one* of the following:

  • Your driver’s license or free state ID number
  • The last four digits of your social security number
  • Or you can upload a photo of a current utility bill, bank statement or government document that shows your name and address.

Absentee ballots can be requested online here. A ballot must be received by the county registrar no later than the close of polls.